The benefits of union membership | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The benefits of union membership

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 7:08 AM

Union membership is on the wane, but not because it's a bad thing for workers.

Indeed, it might make you happier.

So concludes a new study conducted by researchers including Gregory Shuffeldt, an assistant professor at UALR. As described in a New York Times article:

For those who belong to a union, membership seems to bring a benefit that perhaps surpasses better wages or generous health insurance: higher life satisfaction.

The study authors, Patrick Flavin, an assistant professor at Baylor University, and Gregory Shufeldt, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, used data from five different years between the early 1980s and mid-2000s, conducted in the United States, of the World Values Survey, a research project focusing on people’s beliefs. As they write in the report, they found that “union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.”

To other criticism that unions don't achieve such positive goals as reducing income inequality:

“Labor union membership still has benefits, and that this is true for all union members. Simply put, if one goal of labor unions is to boost the quality of life for their members, our study provides empirical evidence that they are succeeding.”

In their study, they tease out four “pathways” by which being a union member might improve quality of life compared with not being a member: “These include having greater satisfaction with one’s experiences while working, feeling greater job security, being afforded numerous opportunities for social interaction and integration, and enhancing the participatory benefits associated with more engaged democratic citizenship.”

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